Monday, May 31, 2010

Wrapping up week one in Victoria

So we made it: mission accomplished! We rode into Victoria in the late afternoon on the Galloping Goose-a multiuse path built over the old rail line. It was a scenic detour from the increasingly busy island hwy, and provided a much more relaxing ride into the city. We knew we were getting close to our destination when we started to encounter hoards of cycle commuters, all decked out in brightly coloured MEC rain gear. It was awesome :)

The same thrill and excitement that followed me as I rode into San Francisco accompanied me as I rode into Victoria. Perhaps because I entered both cities via bridges, anticipating good times, cheap eats, and a plethora of delightful coffee shops. In Victoria, we stayed with my cousin (not really my cousin, but it's easier to pretend she is) Chloe and her boyfriend Andrew at their apartment on Yates. Dad and I spent most of our time bombing around the city on our bikes-whirlwind tour-eating at pubs and Chinese bakeries and speeding up and down the streets and alleyways on our two-wheeled wonders.

It had become obvious to me at this point that I needed to lose some weight. Body weight doesn't really concern me: cycling 6-8 hours a day somehow has a way of encouraging a more svelte figure. But my excess gear baggage was definitely beginning to take it's toll. I decided to drop the cameo tarp, jeans, one pair of undies, and a couple other small items. I threw down $280 for a new (solo) tent (believe me, it hurt. I haven't spent that much money on one item since I bought my bike...wait, that was a grad gift) from MEC. It weights over a kilo less than my old one, so I think I'll notice the difference as I'm kickin it up the coquihalla.

So on Friday night, my uncle Brent and his girlfriend Janice made the journey down from Quadra on the motorbike. So, here we were, six of us, in a one bedroom apartment. And, my Dad had volunteered me to cook everyone dinner! Now, if anyone knows me, they know that I'm not the chef. Lisha is. I'm the one who entertains people with stories of wild nights and ridiculous adventures. I'm the one who chases cars on my bike. I'm the one who eats until I look as if I'm 5 months preggers with a food baby, then lets out a roaring burp. But I'm not the cook!

Nonetheless, always up for a challenge, I concocted a meal plan (cheesy pasta, roast veggies, garlic bread, and spinach salad topped with a raspberry vinaigrette) and we ventured out to scourge up the necessary ingredients. Dad took the role of sous chef, chopping and cutting and peeling, while I masterminded the dinner and tried not to burn everything. Proper care and due attention (mixed with a little bit of luck) ensured that everything turned out alright. It would have made Lish proud :)

Thus we dined and drank, reminiscing about days long past and sharing the latest on goings in our lives. Dad and Brent laughed as they told of their travels down the Pacific Coast by bike and backpacking in Central America in the late 70s. Thinking about it, I realize that I can't help but be inspired by those around me, and if I hadn't grown up around such thoughtful, curious, and adventure seeking individuals, I might still be employed like a normal person and not embarking on the journey of a lifetime.

So as I rolled out my thermarest and curled up on the floor to sleep, I couldn't help but think about how grateful I was to be surround by awesome people who cared about each other, and cared about me. I know when we meet again, we'll have plenty more to talk about.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ode to the west coast

location: Sooke Library
According to my mathematical calculations, it's been raining 85% of the time. So I'm kinda wet. Also, when I went to ceremoniously dip my foot in the sea at Port Renfrew, I kinda fell in, so this didn't really help things much. My tent is like a soggy garbage bag, but my sleeping bag is warm and cozy so I'm not really experienceing any real hardships. Oh, except I broke one of my gear cables, and my papa tried to mend it, but alas it's time had come and it snapped leaving me with only two functional gears to make it through the hills into Sooke. Hah, better now than later I suppose. We hit up the bike shop here, purchased a new cable and obtained directions to the best most awesome and delicious restaurant in town (Alternative Cafe) where I had the bacon bennie of my dreams, three cups of coffee, and a giant cookie. I rested my soaking wet shoes in front of the heating vent (much to the disgust of the rest of the clientèle) to dry them out, and cleaned the caked mud off of my face and knees in the washroom.

So that's where I am now. Clean, caffinated, indoors and full of Hollandaise sauce. My pops is fixing my cables (he secretly loves this kind of stuff), and then we're off to Victoria. Tomorrow night we're meeting up with my mom and sis, who are going to be in Saanich for a yoga workshop.

Ok, so a brief summary of the trip so far goes like this: cycled from Surrey to the Tsswassen (ferry), Sidney to Brentwood bay (ferry), Mill Bay to Duncan to Cowichan Lake throught the old rail path (camped on route), Cowichan to Port Renfew (camped by a lake between the two), Port Renfrew to Jordan River (HUGE skunk cabbages. Port is shrouded in a foggy mist. So wet!), then to French Beach (camped with the crashing waves lulling us to sleep), Sooke, and onwards to Victoria this afternoon.

Stoked to be back to my hobo ways :) even though the weather is less than ideal, the constant drizzle keeping us in a state of perma-wetness, I can't help but be extraordinarily thankful to be on the road again. It's been nice to spend time amongst the lush greenary of the west coast before I venture inland. After all, this place is my home. There's something so beautiful about seeing the vibrant yellow broom in bloom, orange salmon berries dangling from their branches, and fern fronds shooting up through the pavement on the hwy. The smell of the sea, the rocky coastline, beaches filled with pebbles, washed up kelp and driftwood. These are all things I won't be seeing again for a long, long time. So even in the rain, I appreciate that I am here.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Final Preparations

See you on the flipside Surrey!
So after months of waiting, counting down, saving my pennies and dreaming of the open road, I'm finally ready to depart. I spent the weekend out on the deck saying goodbye to friends and family over burgers, beer, and hottub conversations. It's not until I said all my farewells, exchanged warm hugs and eyefuls of emotion, that I felt really and truly ready to embark on this journey. So now it's all good :) Saying goodbye, I think, really gives you a chance to think about the relationships that have developed over the days, weeks, months, and years. Rolling over the good and bad, humorous and ridiculous, extraordinary and mundane, the only rock solid conclusion I could draw is that I have an encyclopedia of memories stored in a warehouse of drawers in my head. It's like the final scene of the last Indiana Jones film, when they cart off the artifacts into a vast and seemingly unending government warehouse. That's my mind.

Of course, in typical Meaghan-style, I procrastinated on packing my gear until Sunday afternoon (supposed to be catching the 10:00am ferry on Monday morning), waiting until after I had woken up from my peaceful slumber, leisurely enjoyed a latte on the deck with Rexy by my side, and read the Sunday funnies. I cleaned and oiled my bike, as well as re-attached the fenders and zap-strapped my totally fabulous flag to the back. My dad the fix-it guy gave me a hand, and we spent much of the evening listening to Paul Simon and discussing the merits and drawbacks of various equipment choices.

So now I'm ready. Or at least I think I am. I'm definitely excited. And not just because Philip scored me a wicked awesome ipod touch and a keyboard phone (for texting!) at a decent price. I'm stoked because a new chapter of my life is unfolding. Because I don't know what tomorrow will bring. Because my future is uncertain, but it's in my hands :)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Game Plan?!

I like to tell people that I'm biking to Newfoundland. The common response is something like, "what? why would you want to ride your bike there?" and I'm like "why wouldn't I want to go there?". I guess part of the reason I'd like to go to Newfoundland is because I'll have to cross the rest of the country to get there, therefor making sure that I don't shortcut my way out of experience a whole bunch of marvelous and fantastic things along the way. Canada is a huge and varied country, and I'm totally stoked on seeing the scenery changes as I most eastward, and how people in particular places live their lives differently. Plus, I've been told that folks from Newfoundland have a distinct accent, that they're really hospitable, and that the coastal scenery is incredible. And although this all sound great, I think there's got to be more to it than that (as there always is), so I'll have to head across the country to check it all out for myself.

I don't really have it figured out exactly how I'm going to get to the east coast though. I mean, I know I'm going to be riding my bike, sometimes for long days, sometimes guerrilla camping or sleeping on the sofas of kind strangers who permit me to do so, but I really don't have my route planned. I have vague idea of how I'm going to travel out of BC (first to Vancouver Island with my pops to cycle through Cowichan Lake, Port Renfrew, Victoria, Sydney, and then back to the mainland via Whislter, Kamloops, Vernon, Kelowna, Nelson, and then up to Calgary), but based on past experiences that's pretty much guaranteed to change. I figure once I get to Calgary, I'll try and figure out how to get through the prairies. And once I get to Ontario, I'll plan out how to get to PEI. And once I get to PEI...well, you get the picture.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Goodbye Central City

So today was my last day at the arena. T-5 days until lift off! I was actually kind of sad to be leaving. To think that I hadn't been on skates since highschool, and now I'm pretty much incredible...ok, that's not in the slightest bit true. But I haven't tripped over the power cord for a few weeks, so I think I'm doing alright.
To celebrate my retirement from my 6 week spree at the roller rink, I made cupcakes. I think nearly every event can be a celebration, and since I'm not leaving out of dislike for the place, but rather to pursue my dreams, it's even more of a reason to celebrate. I'm going to miss counting the change. and laughing with the rest of the staff. and getting pizza from Fresh Slice on my breaks. and the sight of faces and smiles that become familiar after a few weeks time. But I won't miss the smell of sweaty hockey men (even though I've become so used to it, my nostrils hardly pick up the scent anymore). Nor will I miss picking up jockstraps found in the change rooms after the games.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

girl + bicycle = love

I guess I love my bike because it sets me free. Same reason I love my snowboard, my scuba equipment, and my running shoes for that matter. These things that put my body to work, pull my soul out of my chest, and allow me to be more than just a vessel, a useless shell containing facts, emotions, and a BA of archaeology. At times I feel a harsh and unsettling disconnect from my body, and it totally disgusts me. I fear I spend too much time inside my head, and not enough time actually physically engaging in the world around me. The brain and the body. How can there be two separate Meaghans? Sometimes that's the way it feels.

So, I love biking because it enables me to test my physical strength and stamina, while giving me time to meditate on the myriad facets of life. Pedaling through the damp mossy rain forests of Haida Gwaii, sweeping windswept hills of Oregon, grafittied rocks and cacti reaching for the sky of desert Baja, and metropolitan cities of Southern California. Engaging the legs, stimulating the mind, and moving from one place to another like a nomadic sheepherder. Searching for a place to sleep at sunset, meeting people from all walks of life, and waking up with the sun. That's what I love, and that's why I bike.